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Fifth Sunday of Lent (C)


"If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."



The Word This Week


There is a logical development in the readings this Sunday: in the Old Testa­ment, God asks us to look forward to the "new deed he will do", when he will put "water in the wilderness"; we then see the new deed, which Paul talks about, to be the "supreme advantage of knowing Christ Je­sus", and sharing the "power of his resur­rection"; so who is this Jesus, and how is he "water in the wilderness”? It is because he brings hope for the future and forgiveness of our sins, as the Gospel story relates. This Sunday's readings are there for our encouragement, to help us look forward to Easter, and the meaning of Jesus’ Pas­sion, Death and Resurrection: that meaning is Reconciliation and a new creation (as we heard last week). We are driven on through Lent by a vision of the marvels that God has worked, and that God will work for us.


Notes for Readers


First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21.

It is nice to have a bit of poetry for a change! This is a lovely, lyrical prophecy, where God promises a "new deed" for his people. The introduction praises God for his deeds in liberating Israel from Egypt - emphasising the destruction of Pharaoh's pursuing army in the waters of the Red Sea. This is all an introduc­tion to what the Lord says, so pause after "like a wick..." in order to separate the introduction from the speech. The irony is that after the pre­lude, which makes so much of what God did, God's first words invite us not to remember the past but to look for­ward. There is a lovely whimsical tone to the phrase "...can you not see it?” All in all, there is a wonderful friendly, inti­mate tone to the rest of this reading. There should be warmth and enthusi­asm in your voice as you read.


Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14.

This is one of those "Saint Paul enthusing" passages that crop up every now and again. He puts aside the mea­sured, logical arguments, and simply pours forth what he really believes from his heart. It is very personal (look at how many times he says "I" – 18!), and very passionate. Read with some of his passion. This is all about "what really matters", and for Paul, all that matters is Jesus Christ - everything else is "rubbish". Try to maintain a tone of passion and enthusiasm throughout the read­ing: there will be a temptation to let it drop a bit half way through, but try to sustain it, right through Paul talking about straining onwards to the wonder­ful goal where God promises a marvel­lous prize.



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